Having just attended the annual Cascadia Beyond Oil conference at Microsoft’s Redmond campus, I left impressed with how incredibly focused and motivated Pacific Northwest jurisdictions are to electrify their transportation. Just about every Seattle-Metropolitan-area city and county representative was present, along with utilities 90 coordinated partners in all celebrating the $15-million Clean Cities grant that was awarded for fleet purchases and infrastructure. On top of this, the Seattle Metropolitan area is included in the massive $100-million Department of Energy grant coordinated by eTec and Nissan to get vehicles and infrastructure deployed. As an offshoot of this activity, a dedicated collaboration called Evergreen Fleets has been formed to provide peer support and environmental guidance to fleet buyers.
No wonder this area is all “amped” up!
This year’s Cascadia plug-in electric vehicle showcase was also impressive in its growth compared to last year. A total of four bright red and yellow Teslas showed up each day, along with a pristine RAV4 EV, several Prius conversions and Ford Motor Company s future plug-ins the pure electric Focus and the plug-in hybrid Escape. A Canadian newcomer — the converted REV SUV — was also a hit.
The speaker line-up was chock full of movers and shakers including our very own Plug In America president Dan Davids (pictured at right with the Focus EV and David Berdish, Ford’s manager of sustainable business development).
A real stand-out was the deputy secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) the Honorable Ron Sims, originally from Spokane, Wash. Now, why would someone from the nation s housing department come to a transportation conference? Climate change is definitely on the minds of top decision-makers in Washington, he insisted. Sims provided a dramatic account of having visited Alaska where there are plenty of people living in villages on permafrost that is melting as a result of temperature changes. HUD is having to move entire communities to more solid ground.
Another super impressive speaker was Anne Korin, whose book Turning Oil Into Salt was featured in last month s Plug In America newsletter. She eloquently made the case for dismantling the strategic importance of oil as the first step towards reducing its use. Key is to have all U.S. automobiles be either all-electric or flex-fuel plug-in hybrid.
Microsoft’s campus location caused a bit of a buzz regarding availability of charging. It was pointed out that Microsoft doesn’t allow for charging of any vehicles that need more than level one — 110/120 outlets. Several Tesla Roadsters are seen on campus but none ever charge there. The official Microsoft word is that they are “working on the details” of providing charging for the variety of electric vehicles that many workers drive. The Microsoft speaker pointed out that employees are not allowed to walk off with reams of paper or bottles of water in hand, nor should the corporation provide them with free fuel. Yet the employees insist they’ve offered to pay for charging. The pressure is on for Microsoft to get some serious charging established, even if employees have to pay to play.
I look forward to seeing the exponential progress that the Pacific Northwest promises to make with regard to electric vehicle rollout.
Posted by Jeanne Trombly, Plug In America managing director